Landowners welcome government commitment to rural housing
Scottish Land & Estates has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement on the private rental sector (PRS), with new funding for rural housing ‘critical’ for the future of countryside communities.
As part of the programme for government, first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to establish a new Rural Housing Fund which will be available from 2016 for a period of three years. This follows on from the conclusion of the Rural Homes for Rent pilot scheme, which Scottish Land & Estates and its members were instrumental in developing between 2008 and 2014.
Sarah-Jane Laing, director of policy and parliamentary affairs at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The first minister’s announcement is a welcome boost for the rural housing sector and will also hopefully deliver the overall reforms that are needed in the private rental sector as well.
“We wholeheartedly welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to establishing a new Rural Housing Fund. Landowners, both private and community, were at the forefront of developing the Rural Homes for Rent scheme, which delivered significant new housing developments in areas such as Dormont near Lockerbie and Knoydart, and they continue to play a huge role in providing affordable homes across rural Scotland even without government assistance.
“We have been lobbying for a chance for landowners to play an even greater role in the delivery of much need affordable housing in our rural communities in order to build momentum and we hope the new scheme will deliver that in time. It is critical that we deliver new rural housing stock in our rural areas to keep our communities as vibrant as possible and we are glad that the Scottish Government has committed to this.
“Our members pride themselves in providing quality affordable homes and so they are fully supportive of a tenancy regime which will help to address the issue of a small number of unscrupulous landlords who exploit tenants. It is absolutely vital to Scotland’s housing provision that the Private Tenancy Bill, which is expected in October, will deliver for both landlords and tenants.
“The announcement that landlords are going to be given clear rights and safeguards in the way of comprehensive and robust grounds with which to take strong and swift action against tenants who are in breach of their tenancy agreements is to be welcomed. It is our view that in the vast majority of cases, landlords – especially in rural areas - only ask tenants to leave their properties if there are genuine reasons. We therefore welcome reassurance that despite the mechanism to end tenancies with no given reason at the end of the initial period being removed, landlords will be able to take action when required. We hope that the detail of legislation delivers on this. We are supportive of a simple and clear new tenancy with annual rent review provisions and a continuation of a mechanism for tenants to not be subject to rent reviews which take rents over the market value.”